I don’t know how strong the Union is, nor its State, but I do know that President Joe Biden’s speech earlier this week was plenty strong and very effective.
A great deal of what was written and spoken about the State of the Union address had nothing to do with the content, but about Biden’s delivery and the Republicans’ behavior in the House Chamber.
The speech was written for Joe Biden.
I know that seems self-evident, but too often speechwriters in Washington, DC write speeches to be quoted in history books or, more recently cited in Tweets.
They include soaring phrases the speaker would never utter in real life. They write convoluted phrases that require the listener to understand German sentence structure where the subject and verb agree, but never meet.
And, they put words together that read nicely, but are un-pronounceable no matter how many times the speaker has practiced.
Not so, the SOTU of 2023.
It was a speech written for Biden and not derivative of any other President’s speech.
The first thing to remember about State of the Union addresses is: You Sill like it or hate it depending upon what you think of the President going in.
He (or someday, she) is your guy and you will focus on the good points. Not your guy? When will it ever end?
I like Biden, so I am willing to overlook his racing through the text including stepping – stepping? Stomping on the applause lines. I am willing to overlook the resultant verbal stumbles. I’m willing to forgive the glancing reference to Chinese balloons.
I loved the choices of guests in the First Lady’s box up to and including Paul Hewson, somewhat better known as U2’s Bono, in recognition of the 20th Anniversary of the President’s Emergency Program for AIDS Relief or PEPFAR.
The U. S. State Department estimates PEPFAR has saved 25 million lives in Africa over that span.
Back to Biden.
He began by congratulating Kevin McCarthy on becoming Speaker. Biden did this like the gentleman he is, and did not add an aside about the 15 ballots it took to get there as I most assuredly would have done.
Biden said, “Today, though bruised, our Democracy remains unbowed and unbroken.”
As I remember, Mr. 15 Ballots did not stand, did not applaud, did not react as he would have had to explain his Lindsey-Graham-esque reversal on his opinion of Donald Trump in the aftermath of the event of Jan. 6, 2021.
Which leads us to the behavior of the Republicans in the hall.
They acted like a combination of the British House of Commons during Question Time and the South Korean legislature where fistfights break out with some regularity.
The leader of the Rs was not Kevin McCarthy, but Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green who got dressed upon in her best Mae West costume for the occasion. She took it upon herself to act out every impulsive response including shouting “Liar,” loudly booing, and using the fifth-grade-playground signal of “thumb down” to express her displeasure.
The Republican party must be so proud.
Biden seemed to be enjoying the repartee with the larger body of Rs in his audience. At one point he cornered them into denying one of their leaders, Sen. Rick Scott of Florida.
Scott, as chairman of the Republican Senate Campaign Committee, saw himself as a top candidate for the GOP nomination in 2024 except that he failed to run a national campaign leading to a Republican majority in the U.S. Senate.
Scott issued a comprehensive campaign document that included a proposal to sunset all federal programs after five years.
Medicare, Social Security, and Medicare, being Federal programs, would arguably be included.
Biden chose to include them and accused “Some, but not all” Republicans as being in favor of sunsetting them. Boos, Hisses; outrage, faux and real ensued.
Biden then invited them to stand up for seniors. Which they did, allowing Biden to proclaim Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid off the table.
Nearly 40 years a Senator and he knew what buttons to press.
Along with the usual platitudes at the end of the speech, Biden said, “It’s never, ever been a good idea to bet against America.”
After that speech, it doesn’t seem to be such a good idea to bet against President Joe Biden, either.
See you next week.